Governor Signs Bill Expanding Gun Background Checks, Recreational Marijuana Bill Squeaks By In House

Mar 8, 2019

Gov. Signs Bill To Expand Gun Background Checks Associated Press

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has signed a bill that will expand mandatory background checks on firearms sales to include transactions between private individuals.

The bill was signed into law Friday after weeks of divisive debate over the constitutional rights of gun owners, school safety and gun violence.

The governor, a Democrat who took office in January, commended the bill's Democratic sponsors, students and other gun-reform advocates who pushed for the bill's passage.

The Brady Center, a Washington-based nonprofit that advocates for expanding gun control, says more than 20 states have similar laws calling for at least some restrictions on private firearms sales.

Sheriffs across the state had been among the legislation's most vocal opponents as they declared they would not enforce the measure or other bills still being debated by lawmakers.

Democrat Says Repeal Not Possible On Gun Law - Associated Press

Democratic House Speaker Brian Egolf says Republican lawmakers are wasting their time with an attempt to call a statewide referendum to overturn gun control legislation that would expand background checks to nearly all firearms.

Egolf responded Thursday to an announcement by top House Republicans that they will seek to overturn the background-check requirements under obscure provisions of the state Constitution by signature petition and then a statewide vote.

Egolf says the referendum procedures do not apply to public safety measures and that the background-check bill is clearly designed to protect the public. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has indicated she will sign the House- and Senate-approved bill to expand background checks to private, person-to-person gun sales with exceptions for transactions between relatives.

Egolf and other supporters of the bill say it is overwhelmingly popular among New Mexico residents, while House Republicans say just the opposite.

New Mexico Bill Advances To Ensure Obamacare Protections - Associated Press

The New Mexico House of Representatives has endorsed a bill aimed at ensuring medical insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

Democratic legislators prevailed over Republicans in the 40-24 vote on Thursday. The bill would adopt provisions of former President Barack Obama's health care law into state statute in an effort to protect medical patients with pre-existing conditions. The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.

Advocates for the legislation say provisions of the Affordable Care Act are at risk from a lawsuit by Republican state attorneys general and the Trump administration's push for cheaper, skimpier health plans.

Bill sponsor and Rep. Elizabeth Thomson of Albuquerque says the bill provides basic guarantees to insurance coverage and health care for people with serious ailments.

New Mexico Students Focus On Shootings With Planned 'Die-in' - Associated Press

High school students say they will stage a "die-in" at the New Mexico capitol to call attention to school shootings as state lawmakers debate a handful of gun-control measures.

The students from schools in Santa Fe say their T-shirts Friday will bear the names of children who have been shot and killed.

The demonstration comes during the final weeks of this year's legislative session in Santa Fe, where several firearm measures have stirred heated debate between gun-ownership advocates and those who want more gun-control reforms.

A measure that would expand mandatory background checks to include private person-to-person gun sales was the first this week to win approval in the Legislature. It has been sent to Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who has promised to sign it.

Ex-US Rep. Heather Wilson Named President Of UTEPAssociated Press

U.S. Air Force Secretary and former Congresswoman Heather Wilson has been named the next president of the University of Texas at El Paso.

The University of Texas System Board of Regents voted Friday to select Wilson as the only finalist for the job.

The 58-year-old Wilson served as a U.S. Congresswoman from 1998 to 2009 and represented a central New Mexico district that included Albuquerque. The Republican was appointed Air Force Secretary in 2017.

Her Air Force biography says she served as president of the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology in Rapid City, South Dakota, from 2013 to 2017.

Wilson will replace 79-year-old Diana Natalicio who served at UTEP president for three decades.

UTEP has an enrollment of around 25,000 students and about 80 percent are Latino.

Navajo Nation Jail Closures Delayed Until April Associated Press

Two Navajo Nation jails that were scheduled for closure are expected to continue operating until April.

The Gallup Independent reported Thursday that the detention facilities in the tribal capital city of Window Rock and in Shiprock, New Mexico, were scheduled to be closed March 4 due to structural and environmental safety issues.

About $3.1 million has already been allocated from Navajo Nation public safety funds to build a new $79 million facility in Shiprock.

The jailhouse in Window Rock also served as a district court until 2018 when proceedings were relocated to another building. Cost estimates for a new justice center in the city were not immediately available.

Inmates are expected to be held at jails in Chinle and Tuba City in northern Arizona during the period between closures and the completion of new facilities.

Prosecutors Dismiss Sexual Assault Charges Against 3 AirmenAssociated Press

Prosecutors have dismissed charges against three airmen at a New Mexico Air Force base who were accused of rape.

Ninth Judicial District Attorney Andrea Reeb said Friday the charges would be dropped against Isaiah Edley, Thomas Newton, and Rahman Buchanan.

She said prosecutors would be unable to prove the case to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt. She said she made the decision after reviewing results from the state crime lab and meeting with investigators about the case.

If more evidence comes to light, she said the case could be refiled.

Court records say the three men were arrested in January and charged with second-degree criminal sexual penetration after a female airman told police they assaulted her at a house party.

All three men pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Lawsuit Claims Discrimination In Sunland Park Police Stop Associated Press

Police in a New Mexico border city are being accused of discrimination after stopping an immigrant and searching his vehicle for drugs.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico filed a lawsuit Friday in state district court against the city of Sunland Park. The group alleges a police officer unlawfully detained Oscar Gutierrez Sanchez and his young son during a March 2018 traffic stop.

Sunland Park spokesman Peter Ibarbo said the city was not in a position to comment on the litigation.

Sanchez was initially stopped because the officer accused him of speeding. The lawsuit contends the subsequent search of his vehicle was done without a warrant, consent or probable cause and that authorities turned up no contraband or evidence of illegal activity.

The ACLU alleges that Sanchez was profiled and that such instances erode community trust.

New Mexico House Endorses Recreational Marijuana - Associated Press

A proposal to authorize recreational marijuana sales and consumption for people 21 and over in New Mexico has been endorsed by the New Mexico House of Representatives.

By a 36-34 vote Thursday, the House, which is controlled by Democrats, passed a bill that would regulate and tax marijuana sales largely through state-operated stores. Marijuana products would be sold on a consignment basis. The system would be unique in the United States but mimics established state-run stores for liquor.

Some private stores would be allowed in areas far from government-run stores.

The bill now moves to the state Senate for consideration. Democratic Rep. Javier Martinez called the bill a "grand bargain" between Senate Republicans and House Democrats who merged competing proposals.

Ten states and the district of Columbia allow recreational marijuana. New Mexico would become the second state after Vermont to approve it by legislation rather than a ballot initiative.

The bill does not allow for home-grown recreational marijuana. State-approved medical marijuana patients would still be able grown their own.

Exhibit On US Latina 'Cholas' Set To Open In New Mexico - By Russell Contreras Associated Press

A national Hispanic center in New Mexico is hosting a unique art exhibit on the chola — the working class, Mexican-American urban woman often associated with gangs.

The National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque is opening the "Que Chola Exhibition" on Friday with pieces by artists from New Mexico, Arizona, California, Texas, and Colorado.

The displays feature the evolution of the chola from her early days as a "pachuca" from the World War II-era zoot suit period to the contemporary figure trying to survive in poor neighborhoods.

Cholas, or homegirls, often refers to a particular Latina subculture in the U.S. characterized by a tough demeanor and distinctive style.

Curator Jadira Gurule says the chola represents strength and perseverance for many Latinas.

The exhibit runs until Aug. 4.